The neon installation festival luring community out after dark

A festival in Melbourne’s inner suburbs is bringing the community together after-dark to experience installations in an enchanted neon-lit garden.
The neon installation festival luring community out after dark

City of Stonnington set alight with the glow festival. Image supplied.

What could be better than binge-watching Netflix on a wintry Melbourne evening you ask? How about exploring an Edwardian 19-acre federation garden illuminated by immersive art installations?

The sixth Glow Winter Arts Festival will take place from 15-18 August and encourages everyone in and around the City of Stonnington, as well as curious-minded art lovers, to explore Malvern’s Central Park while interacting with the artwork, and each other.

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‘The aim of Glow is to get the community out from the middle of the depths of winter to explore,’ said City of Stonnington Councillor Steve Stefanopolous. ‘It’s the only thing that happens on the southside of the river that’s like this.’

Installations at this year’s festival include: a glowing hemisphere of pixels; a golden elm tree that comes to life through the art of projection mapping; a soundscape inspired by the ocean, and a theatrical light production that guides the viewer through a dazzling display of Melbourne’s four seasons.

With sunken gardens, a fountain and an old conservatory, the installations work alongside the existing infrastructure in the park, bringing it to life. Stefanopolous said the festival is also an opportunity to create work for artists. 

‘We try and commission new works although we do borrow some works from interstate and overseas,’ he said. ‘And there is community grants funding that the council provides to some artists in order to create new works. They can take that and tour that across the country too, which is great.’

One of the installations not to miss, according to Stefanopolous, is String Symphony, an interactive performance that encourages community members to work together and bring giant marionettes  – which are hand-woven and use more than a kilometre of rope  – to life. 

‘These marionettes allow people to participate with the artwork because you have to go up to them and move them yourself. You have total control over them,’ he said.

It’s the community spirit of Glow which has previously been a drawcard for the festival, attracting a mixed crowd from municipalities across Melbourne. It’s also a unique opportunity to capture the light display from your phone.

‘Glow is very engaging social media-wise because it’s at night and it gives you the opportunity to take some great photos,’ Stefanopolous said. ‘The way the projections light up the trees and foliage is just stunning.’

And for those willing to embrace the cold and head to Glow, Stefanopolous has just one tip.

‘I would suggest that everyone rug up. We’re in the depths of winter in Melbourne and everyone should wear scarves, mittens and gloves. It can be freezing!’

But rest assured there will be heaters should you feel the need to thaw out.

Glow Winter Arts Festival runs from 15-18 August from 6-10pm each night. For more information visit: Glowfestival.com.au

About the author

Sabine Brix is a writer, editor, podcaster and electronic musician with a specific interest in personal storytelling that captures the essence of why people create. She was the former Online Content Producer at Archer Magazine and editor of the LGBTI website: Gay News Network.

She has produced sound art for BBC's Radio4  and composed music for the web series Starting From Now, which screened on SBS.

Follow Sabine on Twitter @sabinebrix